Archive by Author

Quick Smoke: La Palina Goldie Laguito Especial

13 Sep 2014

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

On a recent trip, I was surprised to spot this limited edition on a cigar store shelf. Naturally, I couldn’t resist, even at $19. Goldie has achieved something of a cult status since La Palina released the first edition 2012. I never had that one, or the Goldie that came out in 2013. If they were as tasty and elegant as this one, I understand all the praise. This lancero-shaped (7 x 40) smoke is, simply, wonderful—from the fantail head to the long ashes as it burns. If you can find one of the 25,000 that were released, don’t miss it.

Verdict = Buy.

-George E

photo credit: N/A

Cigar Review: Litto Gomez Diez Small Batch No. 5

8 Sep 2014

LGSBIf there’s a certainty about periodically released limited edition cigars, it’s that after the first there will be someone who contends that whatever one you’re smoking, it isn’t as good as one that came before.

Since few of us have smoked them all, that’s a difficult judgment to refute. Is this fifth Small Batch up to the standard of the previous four? I can’t say.

But judged on its own, this is an excellent smoke, created by Litto Gomez as part of his ongoing project to use dark, rough Pelo de Oro wrapper tobacco grown on his Dominican farm. The fifth in the series fits firmly in the La Flor Dominicana tradition of bold smokes that explode the stereotype of Dominican puros.

I got one big surprise in the 6.75-inch, 52 ring gauge stick: sweetness. You find it in the pre-light aroma and woven through the other flavors from beginning to the end. It creates a pleasant contrast.

Other flavors include cocoa, cedar, and coffee, though they’re all artfully blended so none is dominant. I found the burn to be fine on the sticks I’ve smoked, though the white ash is a bit flaky and I wouldn’t mind a bit more smoke production.

While the predominantly red band is typical in appearance to other Litto Gomez cigars, there’s at least one distinguishing feature. In tiny letters on one side is the designation “Puro SB-V,” as was done on the No. 4 earlier.

Released late last year and limited to about 25,000 cigars packed in boxes of 105 and retailing individually for about $20, the No. 5 is no longer easy to find. But it’s well worth seeking out if you’re a fan of strong smokes.

I also think there’s good potential for aging. So even though I only bought a five-pack, I plan to hold on to a couple and check them out in a year or two. For the present, though, I rate this cigar four stogies.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

-George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: My Father Connecticut Toro

6 Sep 2014

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

My Father Connecticut Toro

One of the most anticipated releases of the year, Don Pepín Garcia’s riff on an Ecuadorian Connecticut shade wrapper does not disappoint. With Nicaraguan Habano-Criollo filler and a Nicaraguan Corojo ’99 binder—both grown on the Garcias’ farms—this caramel-colored stick is a tasty treat. Considerably milder in strength than the typical Pepín creation, the Connecticut is, nonetheless, a complex cigar with a bit of the familiar pepper as well as plenty of sweetness, spice, and wood. This should please any cigar smoker, from beginners to those who chase the boldest blends.

Verdict = Buy.

-George E

photo credit: My Father Cigars

Book Review: Unlucky Strike – Private Health and the Science, Law and the Politics of Smoking

4 Sep 2014


If you’re involved in a fight over smoking restrictions or simply want to be well-armed when the topic comes up, Unlucky Strike is a book for you.

Written by Professor John Staddon (above right), a Duke University professor of psychology and biology, his aim is “a re-think and a redress” of society’s current views on smoking. He marshals a lot of argument, replete with footnotes and citations, in just over 100 pages.

That’s fitting for a scholar whose work has ranged from simulated detection of landmines to lectures on traffic control.

But the book is anything but a dry, academic tome. Whether exploring the limitations of epidemiology or dissecting the ins and outs of the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement of 1998, Staddon maintains a sharp focus, a sense of humor, and a conversational tone.

Here, for example, is his take on the effectiveness of banning cigarette advertising: “Dogs like to chase cats. Keeping them away from cats doesn’t help. The first time they see a cat, off they go. The only way to prevent chasing is to expose them to cats and train them not to chase. So it may be with tobacco.”

You’re as apt to run across a reference to comedians Laurel and Hardy as to epidemiologist Sir Richard Doll.

Nonetheless, this is a book that is unlikely to enjoy wide readership. And that might be OK if those who do read it include policy makers, legislators, scientists, and other researchers. Because whether one agrees with Staddon’s views on smoking, there’s no disputing his thoroughness and depth in presenting his case. It would help anyone keep the sort of open mind necessary to reach valid conclusions.

You can order Unlucky Strike online at Amazon.

-George E

photo credit: University of Buckingham Press

Cigar Review: Paul Garmirian Reserva Exclusiva Churchill

14 Aug 2014

Not long after I lit my first PG Reserva Exclusiva, I thought to myself, “I’ve found my newest favorite cigar.” It’s a smoke that you can get lost in and enjoy from beginning to end. And when you return for another, the journey begins again.

PG-reserva-exclusivaLike most Paul Garmirian cigars, the Reserva Exclusiva is created with well-aged tobaccos blended to bring out their flavors with just the right strength, which, in this case, I’d call medium. What set this cigar apart for me was the subtlety and complexity, along with a delicate finish that lingers lightly on the tongue.

The 7-inch, 48-ring gauge Churchills I’ve smoked were as consistent as a handmade product can be. Thick, rich smoke; fine, slow burn; even, deliberate draw. I paid about $11.50 for each one, a bargain, really, for a super-premium class cigar.

The filler is Dominican and Ecuadorian, with a Dominican binder and an Ecuadorian wrapper. According to the website, the tobaccos are 10 years old and they come in nine sizes.

Describing the flavors doesn’t do the cigar justice. It’s the way they intertwine and play off each other that creates the experience. Take just one component as an example: the grassiness frequently found in Dominican tobacco. In the Reserva Exclusiva it is never overpowering but rather comes and goes as a complement to the sharper and sweeter flavors, winding through them to produce something unique.

About seven years ago, one of my colleagues found the robusto (pictured) in this line a bit lacking. Perhaps he stumbled on a dud, or perhaps that vitola doesn’t match the Churchill. Or maybe our tastes for this line are just different. That wouldn’t be particularly surprising. After all, if everyone’s tastes were the same there wouldn’t be hundreds of different blends.

And, honestly, I’m not sure I would have been so enamored with the Reserva Exclusiva earlier in my cigar smoking days or later when I was drawn to ligero-laden powerhouses. I think I have become more attuned these days to smokes that repay attention, though I still enjoy a tasty strong cigar. Like the Opus I had the other week that beat me like a rented mule.

Right now, the Reserva Exclusiva is, for me, a great smoke. In fact, it gets my first five-stogie rating this year.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here. A list of other five-stogie rated cigars can be found here.]

-George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Tip: Newcomers, Don’t Try This at Home — Or Elsewhere

11 Aug 2014

At, we try to appeal to the entire spectrum of cigar smokers. But, aware of the fact that many cigar sites and forums may appear intimidating from the outside, we try particularly hard to pass along tips and thoughts to those just getting into the hobby.

Cigars at Drew Estate

To paraphrase Harry Truman, the only cigar advice that’s new is what you haven’t learned yet. So, if you’re a cigar novice, hopefully these negative commands will help you on the road to greater pleasure. And if you’re a seasoned vet, maybe they’ll remind you of a thought or two you might reconsider.

Don’t worry about laying in a large supply. There are thousands of selections out there. These aren’t 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle coins or 1954 Oldsmobile F-88s. There are plenty on the store shelves. No need to stock up before you really know what you want.

Don’t focus on getting “more for your money.” Smaller sizes, particularly for a new smoker, often offer a better way to sample a new cigar and make it easier for you to concentrate throughout the smoke. Right now there’s a trend towards huge, thicker ring gauge smokes, but many seasoned cigar vets and cigar makers alike prefer to more regularly smoke thinner, smaller sizes like lanceros and coronas.

Don’t worry about aging. Nearly all quality cigars these days use aged tobacco and are sold with the intent that they be smoked, not stored. And even if you wait six months to a year or more, you’ll probably not notice the difference, anyway. One exception to this rule might be Cuban smokes. But I would first focus on exploring all that Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and Honduras have to offer anyways.

Don’t make judgments too quickly. That cigar you love today may not seem the same a week from now. Your tastes will change the more you smoke. Better to concentrate on variety than end up with cigars you find you don’t really like.

Don’t forget why you smoke. Smoking cigars is about enjoyment. It’s not a contest or a competition. Relax and have fun. Slow down. And remember the Cigar University is a great resource to further your cigar education.

-George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Pedro Martin Corojo Robusto

9 Aug 2014

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

Pedro Martin Corojo

This is, I’m afraid, an evaluation of a cigar you may not be able to buy. I picked up a handful of these in December and they’ve been sitting in my humidor ever since. From what I understand, Gurkha had purchased the brand a few months earlier and this line no longer exists. If that’s correct, it’s a shame. The Corojo is a fine cigar, a complex combination of strength, pepper, sweetness, and leather that shifts and twists along the five-inch smoke. Pick one Robusto—or more—up if you can.

Verdict = Buy.

-George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys